James Conner gets more chances with Le’Veon Bell gone


When Steelers coach Mike Tomlin speaks of “consequences” arising from running back Le’Veon Bell’s training-camp holdout, here’s the most obvious one: Other guys will get a chance to show what they can do.

Enter rookie James Conner. The fan favorite, who played for Pitt and overcame cancer along the way, already has the most popular jersey among all rookies (as determined by NFLShop.com) and the most popular jersey among all players (as determined by Dick’s Sporting Goods).

I’m just excited to get reps,” Conner said Friday, per Max Bultman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I don’t know all the details of [Bell’s] situation, but all I know is I’ve gotta master this playbook, be ready when they call No. 30.”

They’ll be calling No. 30 a lot until No. 26 returns.

“He definitely set the bar high with his receiving and his running ability and pass blocking,” Conner said regarding Bell. “Every category, to me, he’s the best running back in the game. So I’ve gotta get in rhythm. It’ll give me an opportunity to work with Ben [Roethlisberger] a little bit, so there’s no drop-off in the rhythm whenever Le’Veon comes out of the game.”

First, Le’Veon has to get in the game. Before that, he has to report. By rule, he can skip all of training camp, all of the preseason, report days before the Week One game at Cleveland, and collect every penny of his $12.1 million franchise tender.

Along the way, the Steelers have the right to rescind the tender at any time, making Bell a free agent. While that remains highly unlikely, Conner could in theory do enough to get the Steelers to choose paying him $3.1 million over the next four years combined over paying Bell $12.1 million in 2017.

If Conner looks the part, all those fans who have bought his jersey will have plenty of reasons to wear it proudly on game days.

24 responses to “James Conner gets more chances with Le’Veon Bell gone

  1. Can Bell still be traded? If Connor has a great camp, could the Steelers flip Bell for players/picks? Not sure what the Franchise rules are at this point.

  2. No…. He’s not under contract as he has not signed his tender…. The only thing they can do at this point is release him by rescinding the tag…..
    However, if he signs his tender he must immediately report to camp or face fines….. & once he signs the tender the Steelers can trade him for pics but the team going after him must accept the franchise tag price is 12 mil with no guarentee he will do a long term deal with them after the trade….. So I doubt anyone would do that

  3. As long as brady and belicheck are around pittsburgh is relegated to second tier status so that leaves the steelers without any hope for the next 4 years or so. Might as well trade him and be ready when new england abdicates te throne

  4. Kind of hoping that Bell goes to save his iphone and get PUP’d…

    Nothing serious, just enough to drive home the injury and suspension history for his desired $25 million a year contract wants.

  5. dickroy says:
    Jul 29, 2017 11:11 AM
    If we are going to get to the big game we will need Bell.

    Not happening. AFC competition is too strong for Pit to overcome.

  6. Theoretically, the Steelers can work out the terms of a trade before Bell signs his tender, but the trade can’t go through until he signs. Since what Bell wants is a long term contract that pays at least $12.1 mil/year, that new contract would have to be part of the trade terms and Bell would have to agree to it.

  7. Bell is not getting a long term contract, because The Princess is retiring after this year…what’s the point…

  8. dickroy says:
    Jul 29, 2017 11:11 AM
    If we are going to get to the big game we will need Bell.


    So he can sit out the big game like he did in the AFCCG after the Pats D smacked him in the mouth a few times….

  9. Whether Bell likes it or not, running backs just aren’t worth as much anymore. Next season let Bell try and find a team that will pay him $15 million, and then welcome back when he returns with his tail between his legs.

  10. What does Ben retiring have to do with Bell’s contract? Besides, if Ben was a true princess, he would announce that he is retiring now so that he could have a farewell tour every game.

  11. Bell is far from a perfect player but from an ability point of view he is unique and the best at his position today. What incentive does he have to come in? The Steelers are low balling him on the contract and if he does come in he takes all the risks.

    The NFL has to face it, the tag is a terrible rule in the current environment.

  12. I’m not a Steelers fan, but good for Conner. He’s had a tough road with cancer and survived. Best of luck to him and hope he has a great career.

  13. I’m a big old-school Steelers fan, but Bell isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, as is the case with many of these millennial athletes who think they’re the best thing to hit the NFL since sliced bread. He should know that the Rooney family isn’t going to be intimidated by a player’s contract demands, especially one who raps about getting more money, has a tendency to get injured, and thinks nothing of smoking a joint–while being subjected to the drug testing protocol. Get your reps in, Mr. Conner. You may not be as talented as LeVeon, but you may be more dependable in the long run.

  14. If you just lower that head and keep grinding, you will get your shot. I presume that like Conner, there are many of us cancer beaters who read and contribute to this message board. Good on ya lad!

  15. enoughofthatalready says:
    Jul 29, 2017 1:57 PM
    Pats d did not knock Bell out of the game. He reinjured his groin early on and Tomlin sat him.


    That can’t be…..otherwise he would have shown up on the injury report

  16. Bell needs to sign. Injury history/suspension history/running back- all add up to an extension and be happy and wealthy playing for a great franchise in a great city- and I’m an Eagles fan

  17. Connor is twice the man Bell will ever be. Sit out Le’veon, while you are the best in the league, you are still replaceable, everyone is.

  18. Le’veon was/is an exciting player to watch…if not for his groin, the NE game would have gone much differently. He is a game changer, when you have a RB that can slide through a line with everybody targeting him, that is a talent. Once Le’veon was out, the game changed, NE could sit back and play pass.
    Now, as for his mental miscues…all RBs seem to have them. He seems like a happy guy, not a grump like Blount, who I nonetheless appreciated in NE. Blount knew he had to put his head down and play ball, as NE was his last second chance.
    Only Lynch, in this decade, is on par with Le’veon, albeit two completely different styles.

  19. “Theoretically, the Steelers can work out the terms of a trade before Bell signs his tender”

    No the cant actually doing so is a cba violation

    Of course its the Steelers so Goodell would do nothing so i guess your right

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